Home-grown cab hailing startup Ola is preparing to invest heavily in its electric vehicle project to grow the vertical alongside its cab booking service, co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal told Moneycontrol on the sidelines of Elevate100 event organised by the Karnataka IT ministry.
'Elevate100' is an initiative by the Department of IT and Biotechnology of Karnataka government, which aims to provide entrepreneurship platform to aspiring startups, setting aside Rs 400 crore in fund pool to help the top 100 technology-based startups financially.
"We are focusing on building an e-vehicle fleet. More investment will go in it. We will update (you) soon it," Aggarwal told Moneycontrol.
Ola has also made multiple presentations to Karnataka IT minister Priyank Kharge to extend the e-vehicle services to the state.
The company has invested about Rs 50 crore already in the e-vehicles project. Earlier this year, the company launched an electric fleet of 200 electric vehicles, including taxis, buses, e-rickshaw and autos in Nagpur.
The Indian government also announced to support at least 60 percent of R&D cost for developing an indigenous low-cost electric technology, in January this year.
Aligned with Government’s vision of implementing 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030, Ola also plans to build the supporting infrastructure of charging stations for its e-vehicle fleet, which will include electric cabs, e-rickshaws, electric auto-rickshaws, and electric buses.
“Our charging stations are the first of their kind, allowing for different types of electric vehicles to be charged under one roof. It is very important to build local solutions for local problems. Ola share solved the problem of pollution to a great extent, and now electric vehicles will extend that benefit,” Aggarwal said.
The vehicles in Nagpur are being sourced from large OEM partners including Mahindra, Tata, and TVS among others.
The e-vehicle project will allow Ola to pare some of its losses, as electric vehicles are typically cheaper than those run on petrol or diesel.
The move could also give an edge to Ola over its arch market rival Uber in India.
Speaking on entrepreneurship during the event Aggarwal said that setting up a startup is a hard task. "I had a cycle that I loved. I sold that and my camera, among other things, in order to become an entrepreneur. I took my wife on our first date on a local train. These sacrifices are needed. Today I finally get some time to enjoy my hobbies,” Aggarwal told entrepreneurs pitching to the Elevate100 jury.
ANI Technologies, parent company of Ola, had reported loss before tax of Rs 2,314 crore in FY16, as compared to Rs 796 crore in FY15.
Founded in 2011, the company has raised about USD 1.6 billion so far.